Food Plot Success


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This year was the best year of hunting we have had since buying our property. We were offered several opportunities and were able to watch deer on almost all our hunts. Our plots get better every year.

What did we do?

We started the year off discing a 1-acre section every 2-4 weeks. Around the first week of June, I put in Egyptian Wheat on the edge of the road. Egyptian  wheat grows to 10-12 feet making for a great road block.

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The plot in late September

We continued to disc the plot throughout the summer. Around August 20th, we used a spreader to spread Buck Forage Oats around half an acre. The other half we use a seed mixture called “Deeps Woods” by Killer Seed food plot. Deep Woods was a mixture of winter rye, winter wheat, rape, clover and groundhog radishes. We then used the 4-wheeler to push the seed into the ground with it’s tires. We then waited for the rain. With this food plot, my goal was to provide food for the deer through the whole deer season and beyond.

 

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Our plot results

Our success?
For the first time this year, we had bucks using the plot pretty consistently starting the middle of September. Two of them were really nice bucks. We even caught them sparring most of the nights we saw them out there. This made it really cool to watch for the non-hunters in the family. Although, I was just itching the get out there and kill one of them.

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Heartbreaker in September

October 2nd was our first opportunity to hunt. We were not even 5 minutes in the stand and the big 8-point we had been watching stepped out. My dad had never shot a deer so it was his turn. We had some communication issues in the blind and he ended up hitting the deer in the shoulder. Not sure about the shot we waited 3.5 hours before we went after him. We ended up searching for the deer all that night and most of the next day and never found it. However, I was pretty positive the deer had survived and 3 weeks later I saw him chasing a doe. As of November 9th, he was still alive.

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Heartbreaker still alive.

I played cat and mouse games with some of the bucks the rest of the season. I had a shot at a big 6-point that I passed on. I thought he was bigger then what he really was. During the rut, he was our most active buck. As of December 13th, he was still alive. Because of this, we called him “Lucky.” As for the other bucks, they were in the plot when I wasn’t, or I was in the plot and they were not until the gun opener.

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“Lucky” on Thanksgiving

After the gun opener, hunting for big bucks was over but I still had a lot of hope. I ended up resting our property during gun season hoping we would draw in new mature bucks from other hunters putting pressure on their property. I also had hope that I would have mature bucks using our plot during the coldest parts of December due to the crops we planted. That was not the case. Once the rut was over in Late November, all the remaining bucks went nocturnal or disappeared.

Once the snow hit, all the deer became very hit or miss. When I decided it was time to shoot a doe, I actually had to sit and wait a couple of days until a decent doe presented a shot. Finally, on December 22 at 3:50, a big doe came out with a group and I shot her at 60 yards. With that shot made the end of my season in the plot.

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My December doe

Why do I think it was so good?
I think our property remained decent through out the season because we practiced extreme scent control. We washed our selves down before every hunt. We also only hunted when the wind was right. Something else we practiced was waiting and sneaking out of our blinds at the right time spooking very few deer. We also only hunted our plot on right winds.
We put trail cameras in easy to get to spots. They were more in our yard then where we were hunting. This helped me gather information about which bucks were using the property. I still practice scent control while checking them using a 4 wheeler to get to them. I only checked them in the middle of the day and when the wind was blowing at the house.

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One of the few day light photos we got during the rut

Mistakes
Our first mistake was the communication in the blind when my dad went to shoot his buck. My dad misunderstood me when I told him how far the buck was. This lead to a poor shot. Because of this, we spread scent throughout our whole hunting property. We may have had some better success if this didn’t happen. I also have to admit that I think I may have hunted a little too hard for the mature bucks during October. After seeing them in the plot during October I was a little excited. Any type of temperature drops I seen during October I went hunting which seemed to be a lot this year. Our rut was very poor compared to last year and I think it might have been because of me over hunting in October. I think the only deer that stuck around after the gun opener were deer that grew up on our property and were use to us sneaking in and out of stands. Next year I plan on hunting it only a few days in October and concentrating more trips during the pre-rut and rut phase.

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Conclusion:
We may not have killed a mature buck this year from our property. However, we shot at our first buck and provided great hunting throughout the whole season. That is a big step up from the first season here when we only saw 3 deer all season. When lots of people were complaining about not seeing deer, we still were. With the season coming to an end a few days ago, I can only start thinking about next year and all the work that needs to be done. I can not wait to get started for 2017.

Plots are a great way to keep deer around where your hunting. If you would like put in a food plot for the first time, here is an article I wrote earlier this year that might help you:

https://greatlakesedge.com/2016/05/20/food-plots-for-beginners/

If you would like to see more stories and journal entries from our plot, you can check them out here:

https://greatlakesedge.com/category/deer/food-plot/

Do you put out any type of food plot? What do you think is the key to success using a food plot??

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